The Broncos mounted a rally after falling behind 31-7 in the third quarter, but were unable to cut the lead to less than 10 points, and fell to the New England Patriots by a final score of 31-21.
Denver fell despite a strong performance from quarterback Peyton Manning, who completed 31-of-44 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns. But he and the Broncos were outdone by the Patriots’ ability to control the clock, as New England finished with a 10-minute advantage in time of possession.
Trailing by 10 points and driving inside the New England red zone, a fumble by running back Willis McGahee put the game out of reach, as the Patriots were able to run out the remaining 3:42 on the clock.
New England got on the board first when quarterback Tom Brady found wide receiver Wes Welker for an 8-yard touchdown pass. The Broncos responded with a 1-yard scoring strike from quarterback Peyton Manning to tight end Joel Dreessen.
The Patriots then scored the last 10 points of the first half and added 14 more in the third quarter to build a 31-7 lead.
Denver cut the lead to 31-21 on a pair of short touchdown completions by Manning, who hooked up with wide receiver Eric Decker from two yards out, then wide receiver Brandon Stokley from 5, to cut the lead to 10 points.